Clinicians and patient groups call for mandatory review of neurology care

The National Neuroscience Advisory Group (NNAG) is calling on NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) to audit neurology services and implement a standardised set of outcome measures.

Using standardised outcome measures would allow a more accurate understanding of access and experiences of care and how services are delivered across England. This would make it easier to identify areas of unwarranted variation and help to deliver and plan more effective services.

The recommendation follows a landmark NNAG outcomes meeting held in September 2021.

The full report of the meeting is published today (23 February 2022).

An important milestone

The event, hosted by NNAG and supported by University Hospitals Birmingham Charity, brought together healthcare professionals, patient organisations, commissioners, and leaders from across neurology to support the development of common service and patient experience outcomes for people living with neurological conditions.

At present, NHS activity data, such as information about outpatient appointments, is collected inconsistently across England. This can mean we have an incomplete understanding of how and if people with neurological conditions access care, how services are delivered. This makes planning population-level care near impossible.

The meeting marks an important milestone in efforts to change that.

Professor Stephen Powis, Medical Director, NHS England and NHS Improvement, opened the meeting.

 He urged the neurology community to work with NHSE/I to set out a set of outcomes which represent both the experiences of people with neurological conditions and clinicians, and utilise existing NHS data systems where possible.

What’s needed now

Today’s report sets out a number of recommendations for both NHSE/I and the wider community:

  • Local and national organisations and systems should work in partnership with people with neurological conditions to co-produce optimum care pathways and design and evaluate services from the earliest stages to ensure people with neurological conditions are central to developing outcome measures in neurology.
  • NHS England and NHS Improvement should work with NNAG, the Neuroscience Intelligence Collaborative (NIC), patient groups, people with neurological conditions and professional bodies to establish clear nationally standardised measurements of care for neurology.
  • NHS England and NHS Improvement should implement a robust system for neurology outpatient coding which is clinician led.
  • As part of this, NHS England and NHS Improvement should implement a mandatory national audit of neurology services to assess the current state of neurology care and services.

The Neurological Alliance, together with members of NNAG, are working together to set out optimum pathways of care across a range of neurological conditions, as well as outcome measures  associated with those pathways.

In parallel, the Alliance will work with NHSE/I and professional bodies to set out a framework for  a national audit, ensuring this supports the work of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).

You can read the report here, and more about NNAG’s work here.